The courier has a new sportswriter and this is about the third or fourth very bizare article he's written. I don't think he knows sports very well, so any comment he hears or any impression he gets just gets put on paper. The officials in the area are very thin-skinned so this will get them up in arms - which is kind of funny.
I've noticed some new calls this year. During a JV game, which had varsity level officials a RB was called for leading with the head several times. The player did not hit with the crown of the helmet, he just lowered his head for the contact with the majority of the contact coming with the pads. Is this some new kind of rule? The article mentioned a hurdling rule - could someone please explain?
Leading with the helmet, is considered a penalty by rule. Hurdling, considered a penalty by rule.
Agree or disagree, most of these crazy rules are put in place as safety measures. It is number one priority, safety of kids playing. Did not see the plays in particular, but it can best be said, officials either rule by letter of the law, or on the other hand intent of the law. The best officials, have played the game before, rule on the intent, rather than letter, and they understand their role as facilitators of said contest. The head of officiating for the AIA, has Said on multiple occasions to a room full of officials "it's your game". That statement is a problem, in my mind as wellas many others.
Actually it is the kids game, officials just facilitate the playing of said game. with regard to some of these crazy rules, again they are for safety reasons only. Most officials, who have played the game before understand there are 50 instances of helmet to helmet contact every play. You look for dangerous situations, you attempt to curtail those by talking to the kids on the field, and if all else fails, and you can't handle these types of rules violations any other way, then you flag the action.
Those who watch the nfl on Sunday's, or the NCAA on Saturdays would do themselves well before they assume there understanding of the game of football in it's entirety, to go online and educate themselves about the huge rule differences at each level.
Been doing this for a number of years, never called a hurdling, and very few instances of leading with the head, o what others call spearing. The best officials and best crews are the ones the fans hardly even know they are there.
Well said, Sprinkler. I bet you're an excellent ref.
I have been watching HS football for years and feel there has been a dramatic decline in quality refs in rural areas, particularly at the lower divisions. I think the lower divisions get the bottom of the barrel. I've seen some very poor calls over the past three years that have been game changers. I've seen the very same refs at youth football games acting like they are complete novices (and really, they are) even if they've been doing it for years. Just this weekend, I saw a team kickoff ten yards closer than they should have and the refs let it happen (coaches didn't notice so shame on them too). It nearly happened a second time, but finally a coach pointed it out and refs corrected it. I saw a ref stand directly in front of the kicking team (about five yards in front and to the side of the kicker) after the whistle to start play. Coaches had to repeatedly ask him if he could please move. This was a head ref in lower division varsity HS games!
I've also noticed that many refs are not physically fit enough to get themselves in the right position to make calls at the high school level.
I know it's a job many people cannot do for various reasons, but I think coaches should encourage their former players to consider becoming a referee if circumstances permit. It's a good way to stay active and help give back to the game they love (though probably not a good idea to ref at your old high school, heh).
Oh, and I agree the Courier article is almost comical. Poorly written as well as inflammatory. Small town papers don't have the funds to pay for top reporters, however, so they get what they can get. I think a paper could certainly be a "watch dog" and report on the possible terrible state of officiating and a call for better referees, but probably should not do so in an article discussing the game results. Such an article should probably consider several games and include comments/rebuttal from the officials and/or the AIA.
That being said... Gila Valley officiating is notoriously bad, according to what I've heard from coaches at different levels/divisions. I've personally seen what appear to be clear, overt and blatant biases (such as always spotting the ball on PAT attempt closer for the home team). I understand this doesn't condemn every ref in the Gila Valley, but they do have a reputation.
I know it can't be easy to referee. I've done it in the past for youth sports and it's challenging. I like Sprinkler's desription of "facilitating the game" and that the best refs are the ones the fans hardly even know they're there. I agree.
Don't know if I'm an excellent ref or not, I guess that depends on who you ask. We did a scrimmage the other day, and my wife said that one fan in particular, did not describe me in glowing terms like excellent. I told her she would do well to stay at home, than fight with the guy about calling her husband bad names.
In all seriousness, I believe I work with a great crew and white hat. We are not perfect, we make mistakes but we have a philosophy that works well for us. Lots of talking to the kids, and every attempt to have a flow to the game that is not marred by 25 flags. We had 9 last week, with two really poor football teams and a blowout game. We could have thrown 40 flags, but why would you if it is not a safety issue, the game was over early, facilitate fair play, attempting to get the game over, keep the kids healthy, and a good flow to the game. That's not calling a game by the book, but calling a game with a philosophy and understanding of why we are there.
It is not an easy job, I suppose that is why there are so many experts in the stands, and the stupid people on the field or court wearing striped shirts. So much easier from the stands, I've never missed a call up there.
The poor officiating is not just restricted to the Gila Valley. I have been to all 4 of St David's games this year of have hardly missed any over the past 4 years. Overall, officiating has been ok but there are a few crews that ruin it for the rest.
Over the past two weeks I have seen the same ref make a illegal forward pass call while 25 yards behind the play, he did not even have the energy to follow the play.
All these kids from D1 to D6 are out there to have fun and play. D6 should have the same quality of officiating as the bigger schools.
Bad officiating continues.... I'm seeing same bad refs at youth, JV, and Varsity games making the same bad calls, puttering slowly on the field, being very inconsistent with blowing the whistle (sometimes way too fast or way too slow), spotting the ball consistently better for one team than another, spotting the ball inaccurately between quarters, showing ignorance of some rules, and worst of all, allowing dangerous late hits to occur down field because they are not in position to see stuff.
Recently, an official (and coach) were tossed and banned by a local youth league after a second time fighting with one another. Can this official then referee at the HS level? Sure, but should he? What about refs who swear at the fans? Can that be tolerated? What is the process to request a particular official never ref your games? What about refs who seem to be there to entertain the crowd and talk to everyone, including answering questions yelled by fans?
When you get a good crew, they are like a breath of fresh air and you hardly notice them. Good crews seem to be the exception anymore, especially at the D6 level, who seem to get the bottom of the barrel.
Don't know the particulars in every case, but suffice it to say, there are good and bad associated with everything football. Good coaches and bad, good players and bad, good officials and bad, good fans and bad.
One of the largest problems I see is the difference between the rules of NFHS, and college or pro ball. Most fans, including some here, have no clue of the differences at each level.
Being completely honest, 95% of fans could not pass the NFHS officials test the first time. In fact I would venture a guess the vast majority of Fans would score below 50%. Probably half the coaches I run into have a misunderstanding of the rules and I would venture to guess Half of them couldn't pass the test either. That's not being pompous or high and mighty, I miserably flunked the test the first time I took it and I thought I knew football. I did, just not the key words and the small differences at each level.
We now meet as a group of officials and go over every single question on the test, looking up definitions and rules, and sometimes disagreeing all the way to the point of turning in the test and seeing who was right and who was wrong.
How do you become an official? Easy, you have to have a clear background check and a fingerprint card issued by the DPS. Second, you have to clear your mind of what you think you know, and actually read the rules and definitions books handed out at area meetings. Third, you've got to have about $350 per sport to get started. Fourth, and most importantly, you've got to understand you are going to be called every name in the book, screamed at and hollered at, sometimes when your wrong and even when your right. Finally, you better have some very thick skin, accept your human and will miss things and make mistakes, but your job is to always keep in mind who we play the games for--the kids.
Do to the background checks, and the added costs each year to sign up and participate, #s are severely down across the state this year. I'm sure the AIA would welcome with open arms those that can meet the criteria above, and so would the current guys doing the job now. Always room for more good people, and always fun to watch some experience the other side.
Finally I would agree, even though it is not always the case, usually the more experienced crews work the bigger games in the area. I think that is very tough to handle when you have not such a good crew, and the game is so important to the kids. Simple solution is more guys willing to step forward and put some stripes on and do the best they can to help promote the game for the kids.
I'm wondering if the AIA EVER lets people officiate that have not passed the test?
I'm sure there are some people who don't pass the test, fail to turn it in, or don't get it done on time. They will receive a score, and will also receive instructions from the area commissioner on areas to study up, and when to retake the test. Our test is due the 15th of this month. Most officials have taken the test every year they officiate, so your only talking about a very, very few, first year guys who are probably officiating without having taken, finished and passed the test. The rest have probably taken the test multiple times. The test however is not the same, as there are a number of rules changes each year, and areas of importance or stress.
Rule book in hand, definitions book in hand, the tests are brutally difficult. Usually the questions will try and trip you up by changing one word which might have a slightly different meaning. Your positive you know the correct answer, but usually that one word gets you. No kidding, it takes an official about 5-6 hours of true time to go over each question closely, analyzing each word, and then going through the books to find the area, or areas the question is covered. Then we usually meet as a group for multiple hours to go over the test together, then sometimes more questions and opinions as we travel to and from games. Like I said, I would be shocked if 5% of fans could score over 50% on the test. And I would almost bet anything, that without a the books and lots of time, the majority of coaches would struggle to pass the test as well.
One thing that needs to be understood, is that even two guys who know the rules well may disagree on a call. That's because we all see things through our own eyes, and quite often, judgement is a key factor in determining whether there is an infraction, and secondly, if that infraction warrants a yellow hanky, or just a brief talk with the player or play in question. Remember, the less flags thrown, usually the better the experience is for the fans, the kids, the players, the parents, the coaches and the officials. It's easier to talk a kid out of the behavior, than throw a flag, delay the game and watch the umpire march off 5, 10, or 15 yards one way or the other. Nobody goes to watch the refs!!!